Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of information is available in the Portal?
How often is the data contained in the Portal updated?
Which institutions link up their data to the Portal?
Do users have free access to all the maps available in the GeoSUR GeoPortal?
What type of metadata does the Portal contain?
Is the information available in the different GeoSUR geoservices centralized?
How can I check the characteristics of the maps available in GeoSUR?
What is the quality of the geospatial information I can access through GeoSUR?
Which institutions operate and maintain the GeoSUR Portal?
What technologies were used to set up the GeoSUR Portal?
What basic functionality is offered by the Geoportal?
What type of analysis can I do with the digital elevation models available in GeoSUR?
How can my institution participate in GeoSUR?
Can I integrate the data available in the Portal across frontiers?
What kind of information is available in the Portal?

The GeoSUR Portal provides spatial information on Latin America and the Caribbean (digital maps, satellite images, aerial photos and the like) set up by spatial data producers such as geographical institutes, environmental ministries, public works agencies and many other national and regional agencies participating in this initiative.


The Portal provides information on topics such as the following:

  • Political-administrative divisions
  • Soils
  • Topography
  • Ecosystems
  • Hydrography
  • Biodiversity
  • Water bodies
  • Geology
  • Cities and towns
  • Elevation models
  • Land cover
  • Aerial photos
  • Ecological regions
  • Satellite Images
  • Infrastructure
 


Must of the information available in map services operated by partner agencies has national coverage. Regional spatial information can be viewed in the GeoSUR Regional Map Service or in the Condor System

How often is the data contained in the Portal updated?

Must of the data that is discoverable in the Geoportal is maintained by national participating agencies on their own geoservices, such as map servers or metadata catalogs. Each agency updates its data according to its own plans and priorities. The Geoportal maintains some regional datasets available in the Regional Map Service. These are maintained by CAF and we do our best to keep them up to date.

The Portal maintains a central metadata repository that is updated frequently by a harvesting process that fetches metadata from several partner catalogs registered in the Portal.

 
Which institutions link up their data to the Portal?

Must of the information you can consult in the Portal is available in map services and metadata catalogs operated by partner agencies, basically data producers from Latin America and the Caribbean, such as geographic institutes, ministries of environment, ministries of planning and public works, universities, NGOs and many other local, national and regional data producers.

Participation is open for any spatial data producer willing to stage its data in public geoservices using open standards.

Do users have free access to all the maps available in the GeoSUR Geoportal?

The Portal users can view and download all the metadata in the portal and can also view the digital maps and other spatial data produced by partner agencies and available in independent map services. Data download is done directly from the partner´s geoservices, as each participating agency has a different data access policy that must be respected.

What type of metadata does the Portal contain?
There are two types of metadata in the Portal:
1) Metadata that describe spatial data. These make up the majority of the metadata in the Portal. The metadata standard used to develop this metadata records is ISO19115/19139.
2) Metadata that describe geoservices. Mostly created with the ISO19119 standard, these metadata describe the map services, WMS services, spatial gazetteers and metadata catalogues associated to GeoSUR.
Is the information available in the GeoSUR network centralized?

Not at all. The national data available through the Portal is staged in independent map services and catalogs operated by partner agencies, the GeoSUR network is fully decentralized to keep data close to its producers. Each partner agencies has full control over its data and geoservices, GeoSUR only provides an additional point of entry to these services.

How can I check the characteristics of the maps available in GeoSUR?
Detailed information about a given spatial dataset is found through the metadata associated to it. A metadata records is just a file card, much like a book reference card in a library describing the contents and basic features of a spatial dataset. The GeoSUR Portal has a search engine to locate metadata and to look up digital maps.
What is the quality of the geospatial information I can access through GeoSUR?
Information quality in GeoSUR can vary considerably because of the quantity and diversity of available data and the heterogeneity of the data-generating participating institutions. To ascertain data quality for a particular dataset and to determine whether it conforms to certain uses or not it is best to look up the quality section of its associated metadata.
Some of the information available in the GeoSUR network is generated by national geographic institutes and it constitutes the official geographic information of the participating countries.
Which institutions operate and maintain the GeoSUR Portal?

The Portal was developed with the technical support of the EROS Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). At present it s being operated and maintained by CAF - the Latin American Development Bank and the Panamerican Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH).

National map services and catalogs are operated and maintained by partner agencies at their own premises and are fully independent of GeoSUR. They are registered in the GeoSUR Network but are completely autonomous.

What technologies were used to set up the GeoSUR Portal?

The Portal's current release operates under ESRI's Geoportal Server Open Source (version 1.0) and the Regional Map Service operates under ArcGIS Server (version 10) the GIS Portal Toolkit 9.3, an ESRI tool. The Portal uses Joomla 1.5 as its Content Management System (CMS).

Partner agencies are free to select the hardware and software to operate their geoservices.

What basic functionality is offered by the Geoportal?

The Portal allows for the discovery, visualization and analysis of spatial data. First the user discovers the data by searching directly in the Portal catalog or in partner catalogs for available metadata, to see if the data he is looking for has been described with metadata. Once he discovers the metadata, if the data is on-line in a map service linked to GeoSUR, he can visualize the data, or maybe even download it if the partner map service provides this functionality.

The data can be analyzed using geoprocessing tools available in partner map services, or using the Topographic Processing Service (TPS) available in the GeoSUR Regional Map Service. The TPS provides access to several digital elevation models at different resolutions to produce derivative datasets (i.e., slope, aspect, hill shade) or to analize the data (i.e., raindrop trace, viewshed analysis, watershed delimitation).

We are continuously improving the functionality of the Portal and its associated regional geoservices with feedback provided by our users.

What type of analysis can I do with the digital elevation models available in GeoSUR?

The Geoportal offers access to several digital elevation models (DEM) of Latin America and the Caribbean at different resolutions: 30 m., 90 m., 250 m., 500 m. and 1Km. The DEM with the greatest resolution available in GeoSUR is the 30-meter SRTM.

The models are available in the Topographic Processing Service (TPS) in the Regional Map Service and can be used to produce derivative datasets (i.e., slope, aspect, hill shade) or to analyze the data (i.e., raindrop trace, viewshed analysis, watershed delimitation).

All the source DEMs are available for download with the exception of the 30-meter SRTM dataset.

How can my institution participate in GeoSUR?

Participation is open to any spatial data producer from Latin America and the Caribbean, or to outside producers that generate data for the region. In order to participate producers must be committed to stagin some of their spatial data in geoservices, free of cost, for public viewing.

To formalize its participation in GeoSUR the agency must send a letter of intent to CAF – the Latin American Development Bank expressing interest in joining this regional network.

More than 55 national and regional agencies are participating in GeoSUR today.

Can I integrate the data available in the Portal across frontiers?

The majority of the information linked to the Portal is national information produced by national agencies, thus making it difficult to integrate across frontiers, since the data has been generated using methods, standards and classification systems adopted by each national agency. The GeoSUR Regional Map Viewers permits visualization of this national datasets, but don´t expect them to match seamlessly across borders, except when adjacent countries have previously harmonized their data, which is not common in the region.

The GeoSUR Regional Map Viewer provides access to a few regional datasets that are integrated and harmonized, such as maps of roads, hydrology, land use or cities, but in general these datasets have less resolution or are not updated as frequently as the national datasets.

GeoSUR has plans to harmonize national datasets in order to generate regional data useful for transboundary projects, in collaboration with national geographic institutes and other data producers.